Updated: May 5, 2014 at 7:21 am
Modified Clyde is a bull who weighs approximately 1,600 pounds, give or take a hundred, and the big guy was full of evil energy as he danced around in the dirt at The Broadmoor World Arena. Clyde began his little show Sunday afternoon by leaping two feet in the air.
This was fun to watch.
Unless you were Renato Nunes.
He wasn't watching. Nunes was riding on Clyde's back.
Bull riding delivers the most terrifying and among the most entertaining moments in sports. For years, I've watched brave and perhaps slightly unhinged riders attempt to ride these enraged beasts for eight seconds.
Nunes delivered a magnificent performance in his ride on Modified Clyde, defying gravity on his way to scoring 90 points and winning the Rumble in the Rockies event of the Professional Bull Riders tour.
His ride, and others like it all weekend, are great theater.
But those rides are baffling to me.
Why would anyone voluntarily jump on the back of a huge, snorting beast?
A few minutes before Nunes' ride, Pistol Robinson offered a friendly explanation. Pistol, like Nunes, rides bulls for a living and competed this weekend in the Rumble.
He rides, he said with a smile, for fun. It's not about the money. It's not about the crowds.
It's about the rewards of taking a personal challenge to the outer limits.
Yes, he was serious.
"For me," he said, "it's the adrenalin rush. Bull riding is the only sport besides golf where you're directly competing against yourself. It's not me against other riders. It's me and the bull, and it's only me and a bull. It's the adrenalin rush of it."
Fear is there, always, but Pistol said he pushes his doubts to the back of his mind. He said we all do this pushing every day.
"If you're getting on a heavy animal, you have to fear their ability to stomp you into the dirt," Pistol said. "The fear is there but it's more about the adrenaline and excitement. There's anticipation and excitement no matter what you're doing. There's some fear in nearly everything. If you jump out of an airplane, you're going to say, 'I hope my chute opens' but it's just in the back of your head.
"I'm not getting on that bull hoping I don't get hurt. I'm focused on riding away."
Pistol sees this drama in the correct light. Bull riding is a simple, dramatic, scary struggle between man and beast. During Sunday's competition, announcers talked in serious voices about the bulls.
"Look at the statistics on that bull," an announcer said at one point.
"He's very smart," an announcer said later, assessing the IQ of another bull.
While Pistol talked about the matchless joy found in riding a beast, Modified Clyde was prowling a few dozen feet away. I can't comment on Clyde's intelligence.
I can say Clyde looked extremely scary.